Rise of the machines

As a young man born in and living in Pretoria South Africa, multi-billionaire Elon Musk, who is better known for pioneering the battery-operated motor concept, was shunned by the Industrial Development Corporation several times.

His innovative ideas were denied financial backing so he moved to the USA for better support. The rest as we all know is history.

The futuristic thinker, however, took a rather sceptical and worrisome handbrake-turn when it came the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) and its benefits for society.

When a man like that with so much insight into technology warns of its potentially harming effects  it warrants notice. Musk warned that its use would foster the coming of a third world war. We have to for such reasons,  delve a little deeper into the topic.

We have rapidly progressed from longer periods of Stone, Iron, Industrial, Space, technological/information ages. The world is now apparently fused between the latter three.

We have crept into the age of automation. This despite still dealing with the ravages of poverty, disease and other human imbalances such as the negative impact we have on the earth.

Automation & AI usage

Automation is helping business through software like ERPs that take over traditional back-office finance and operations.

In the IT industry, the Internet of things (IoT), cloud services such as hosted emailing and file-storage and general Software as a Service (SaaS) has made the tasks of IT professionals effortlessly pleasing.

You can therefore, oversee and attend to more pertinent issues and tasks (hopefully not just stream movies and play games on duty), that contribute to productivity.

While seated comfortably, you will be able to now perform tasks such as deploying new software, installing/removing updates on multiple machines/devices simultaneously. All with a push of a few buttons.

Trading bots

In the high-risk investment scene, automation has given traders more room for better research and analysis Thus relieving you from the known stresses and mundane tasks associated with trading.

For many trading houses and brokers, AI has even completely taken over the mundane task of making and executing trades.

If you haven’t already, read this great book entitled: The Fear Index (thriller by Robert Harris). Though fiction, it illustrates the use of a machine learning tool using algorithms to help a hedge fund company generate billions for its investors.

The use of AI can lead to costly system-generated errors like the trading error a few years at Goldman Sachs cost the firm $100 million and other cases.

Other use cases

It can still, on a ‘micro’ level, help free human capital (individuals) from PC-related issues like stress, headaches, backaches and lack of time spent with family and friends.

In the industrial and manufacturing sectors, the advent of AI and automation creates even more of a fear and a concern due to the numbers (staffing) of redundancies it could pose when broadly introduced.

But this would require careful planning to ensure that those blue-collars ‘replaced’, are compensated. More so, they would need to be incorporated into different areas of businesses.

Limits of robotics

Obviously, not every task need to be automated or performed by robots. We (as humans) are still required to check-up, inspect and perform quality checks for instance.

We can, as a result, deal with inter-personal jobs that require more empathy like in a Callcenter for instance.

Human resources or getting into corporate social responsibility (CSI) projects that reach out to communities.

Embracing it

Most crucially, policies by governments will need to focus ever so more on job-creation. They now must adopt innovative means of creating jobs or fostering and supporting entrepreneurship that embody creative destruction projects.

Projects like those of Mr. Tesla/Mr. PayPal/Mr. SpaceX  have created thousands of new jobs.

As for the use AI in weaponry and military defence systems, the less said the better.

When it comes to privacy and security concerns we can only hope that rogue politicians do not get unregulated access to such technology. In such a case we would only be able to protest and hope we do not end featuring in a real-life James Cameron sequel to Judgment Day.

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